Quite the milestone
Graduation caps off this couple’s time at GCC, including their marriage and kids
GREENFIELD — Jamal and Kasey (Perry) Holland hadn’t yet met when they first enrolled at Greenfield Community College in 2009.
Four years, one wedding and two babies later, the Hollands graduated Sunday with associate degrees — the end of a journey where they balanced classes, work, internships and parenthood.
The reality that they’re graduating hasn’t fully sunk in yet for the young couple — who just had their second child, Kaeylyn, earlier this month.
“I kind of feel like I’m dreaming, like I should be signing up for classes,” said Mrs. Holland, 21, who studied early childhood education.
“It really feels so surreal ... 2009 feels like it’s forever ago,” said Mr. Holland, 24, who studied criminal justice and won an award in the field at the graduation.
The Hollands were both dating other people when they first met and became friends. They started a relationship, married in May 2011 and had their first son, Bowen, that October.
Mr. Holland, a Franklin County Technical School graduate, was enrolled in the Franklin County Reserve Police Academy, interning at the Montague Police Department, working and taking four classes.
Mrs. Holland, who attended Frontier Regional High School, took a semester off from school. In the months that followed, the couple learned to cherish morning car rides together because it’d be some of the only moments they’d have together the whole day.
But GCC professors were always flexible and understanding, they said. Not even 2 years old, Bowen has already attended a few college classes during times when the Hollands were unable to find a baby sitter.
But despite the challenges, they focused on getting through to finish their degrees.
“(We) just kept telling ourselves, ‘If we finish, it will be a better life for (our children),’” said Mrs. Holland.
Both were able to have on-the-job experience during their time at school.
Mr. Holland’s stint with the Montague police allowed him to see how officers applied the same things he was simultaneously learning in the police academy. He graduated from the academy last year, will take the Civil Service examination next month and hopes to be hired as an officer soon.
“I want to be an inspiration to young kids, teenagers and young adults,” he said, “and help them along the right path of doing what is right and following the law and making the best out of their lives that they can.”
Mrs. Holland said that all early childhood students are required to do two semester-long student teaching stints. Her two assignments — the Greenfield preschool Academy of Early Learning and Community Action’s Head Start program in Turners Falls — taught her two distinct teaching styles.
She wants to be a teacher and someday open her own child care center.
You can reach Chris Shores at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264